The 11 Best Bars In Surry Hills In 2024
— Updated on 10 April 2024

The 11 Best Bars In Surry Hills In 2024

— Updated on 10 April 2024
Randy Lai
Randy Lai

Arguably better known for its restaurants and tidy selection of fine publicans, bar-hoppers often think of Surry Hills as an interstitial suburb. And while it’s certainly true that it lacks the frenetic energy of Newtown or the concentration of award-winning venues of the Sydney CBD, there are still many worthy watering holes here — all within easy reach of those living/working in the inner east.

Behold: our latest neighbourhood dining guide — dedicated to the best of Surry Hills bars. Be they cocktail dens, temples to vino, or the sort of place where you can easily order a full dinner, tasty beverage in hand.

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All Of Surry Hills’ Best Bars In 2024

Lokal (Best Overall)

bars Surry Hills

A longstanding favourite of multiple staffers in our office, Lokal is the sort of inconspicuous yet whip-smart wine bar that’s only possible when you have seasoned hospitality operators like Patrick Frawley and Nelson Cramp onboard.

The former, in particular, has survived a bevvy of the most competitive luxury hospitality theatres around the globe: having overseen beverage programming at places like Restaurant Story London and The Landmark Mandarin Oriental.

Like a couple of gastronomical John Wicks, Frawley and his co-owner Cramp (also in charge of Lokal’s formidably compact kitchen) have chosen a life, away from the limelight, of simple pleasures: embodied in small plates of epic, plonk-worthy fried chicken or charred ruby tuna garnished with a salad of vermouth-macerated kiwi.

Even accounting for competition from restaurants, Frawley’s wine & cocktail menu is quite possibly the best in the suburb: full of ‘by the glass’ options from sans bullshit producers, produced in a disparate range of terroirs.

To our knowledge, there aren’t too many somms in Surry Hills offering blends of Italian grapes from winemakers in Gippsland — certainly not with the same vim/calibre of knowledge as Frawley.

Address: 104 Fitzroy St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Chef(s): Nelson Cramp
Opened: September 2022
Price Guide: $$
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday (5 PM – 10 PM), Saturday (12:30 PM – 10 PM)
Bookings: Recommended

Beau (Best Wine Bar)

best bars Surry Hills

The first of several Surry Hills bars on our list that the reasonable observer might dually categorise as a restaurant, Beau is the sister venue to Rebecca and Al Yazbek’s established pan-global eatery: Nomad.

All things considered, the wine bar component here remains a biggie. Behind the main bar area, the exhibition-style wine storage at Beau signposts unambiguously what patrons are in for: something that’s reinforced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, by the fact that there are always three vinos on tap at any given time.

Producer dinners (showcased with the likes of Old World royalty like Château Angélus) are a surefire sign you can push the boat out — the list of bottles from Burgundy and the Côtes du Rhône is extensive — but the team at Beau are more than capable of switching gears.

For a particularly lush solo dinner, we heartily suggest taking advantage of the venue’s ‘BYO Monday’ promo. Best enjoyed with an order of the signature butterflied spatchcock, along with a few charred peppers.

Address: 1 Fracks Ln, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Chef(s): Troy Spencer
Opened: February 2023
Price Guide: $$$
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Wednesday (4 PM – 10:30 PM), Thursday – Saturday (12 PM – 2:30 PM; 4 PM –10:30 PM)
Bookings: Recommended

Golden Age Bar

Joined at the hip to the iconic independent cinema of the same name, Golden Age’s Bar & Kitchen is a hodgepodge of appropriately cinematic influences.

Even if you’re not gearing up for your fifth re-watch of Days Of Being Wild next door, patrons are encouraged to come through for cocktails and a selection of vaguely European dishes seven days a week. Food options have benefited from a bit of insight from neighbouring Poly with plates like the squid ink spaghettini and pan-seared salmon providing lots of nostalgic comfort.

Meanwhile, drink-addled cinephiles have a lot to get excited about. Apart from the usual selection of craft beer and natty wine labels, the cocktail menu is awash in enjoyable, winking references. There are no less than five ways to order a Martini (yes, one of them is a ‘Vesper’), and the signature drinks list — full of concoctions like ‘The Big Lebowski — is as fun to read as it is to order.

Address: 80 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Opened: September 2013
Price Guide: $$$
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday (5 PM – late), Saturday – Sunday (12 PM – late)
Bookings: Not required


Having more or less recovered from its smallish fire incident at the end of 2022, it’s been pretty much business as usual at Poly for the ensuing year.

Yet another restaurant camouflaged in the guise of a noninterventionist wine bar, you’ll probably see Poly on a grip of multiple lists we’ve published. The reason? Simply put: it’s still one of Sydney’s, nay Australia’s, greatest destinations for eating & drinking several years down the track.

Constantly in pursuit of primeval pleasure, Mat Lindsay and his team are liable to serve you some of the country’s best produce grilled on an open flame; all washed down with a bottle of Loire Valley Chenin Blanc or whatever magical South Australian juice happens to tickle their fancy right around at the time of your visit (hint: this year, we hear good things about the Grenache collab with Jauma Wines).

A wonderful place to duck into regularly or wow people visiting Sydney for the very first time. Not for nothing: at $95, the restaurant is also doing one of the better value set menus in the city right now.

Address: 74-76 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Chef(s): Mat Lindsay
Opened: August 2018
Price Guide: $$$$
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday (5 PM – late)
Bookings: Recommended

Surly’s American Tavern

bars Surry Hills

An institution for our Canuck and Yankee friends (or just those with an itch for ‘Murcan culture), Surly’s has been serving beers and southern barbeque to Sydneysiders, going on the best part of a decade.

The venue’s down-to-earth ambience and lived-in woody interior make this a great spot if you’re celebrating any of the traditional American festivities (Super Bowl, anybody?).

In a completely unsurprising revelation, tackling Surly’s en masse tends to offer the best enjoyment. A common plan of attack would be to order the ‘Ultimate’ BBQ platter: between the signature brisket, pulled pork, and Texas hot links, there’s enough animal here to feed four very hungry diners. Wash it all down with a round of the house’s famous $10 picklebacks.

Address: 182 Campbell St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Chef(s): Brendhan Bennison
Opened: May 2015
Price Guide: $$
Opening Hours: Monday – Tuesday (5 PM – 10 PM), Wednesday – Thursday (12 PM – 10 PM), Friday – Sunday (12 PM – late)
Bookings: Not required

Four Pillars Laboratory

First up, a brief (if important) point of clarification: though drinkers often refer to the bookable space at Four Pillars’ eponymous Surry Hills laboratory as the bar, the spot you should really be gunning for is Eileen’s.

This upstairs post-industrial space – full of upholstered corners and moody lighting – is anchored around a long juniper-blue wet bar.

Eileen’s is much more than a thinly veiled point of sale for all things Four Pillars. For starters, there’s a very substantial snack menu that goes down a treat with the venue’s predictably vast assortment of gin-themed long drinks (think G&Ts and highballs).

In a testament to the Four Pillars crew’s desire for this F&B offshoot to stand on its own feet, the best drinks here so often come from the ‘Lab Signatures’ part of the menu. Here the brand’s many already excellent juniper spirits are subjected to various alchemical processes: always with delicious results.

The ‘Tanlines’ strikes us as a modern, thoroughly Aussie riff on the classic Piña Colada. Or, if you prefer something on the richer end of the spectrum, sample the ‘Banana Bender’ – Four Pillars’ classic Rare Dry Gin, stacked with flavours of Oloroso and koji caramel.

Address: 410 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Opened: June 2020
Price Guide: $$$
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Friday (5 PM – late), Saturday – Sunday (3 PM – late)
Bookings: Not required

Tokyo Bird

bars Surry Hills

An iconic eating and drinking establishment in Surry Hills that has been going strong since the late 2010s, Tokyo Bird is one of Sydney’s OG yakitori purveyors: specialising in various delectable cuts of chicken, cooked over an open charcoal grill.

Unsurprisingly, the yaki-centric food menu makes brilliant fodder for Tokyo Bird’s drinks programme: which leans heavily on whisky from Suntory, Nikka, and Mars – three of the most iconic names in Japanese whisky.

There’s also a highly customisable highball menu, giving diners the bandwidth to go beyond the typical ‘whisky + soda’ format. We recommend throwing caution to the wind, and ordering the version that mixes Nikka Days with Calpico soda.

Address: 226-228 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Opened: January 2015
Price Guide: $$
Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday (4 PM – 11 PM), Thursday (4 PM – 11:30 PM), Friday – Saturday (4 PM – 12 AM)
Bookings: Not required

Bar Conte (Best Negroni Bar)

bars Surry Hills

In the consummate Milanese tradition, Bar Conte means different things to different patrons, depending on what time of day you visit.

The venue serves up espresso and traditional pasticceria goods from 7:30 AM onwards. But hungrier diners can order a range of pasta courses and seared proteins until the wee hours of the evening.

In the context of our ‘best Surry Hills bars’ shortlist, however, you most definitely want to prioritise ordering a Negroni here – in all of this classic aperitif’s Campari-red, gin-soaked glory.

Helpfully, Bar Conte’s drinks menu attaches historical dates to each of the most acclaimed Negroni variations you can order (bartenders have been riffing on the recipe as late as 1982), and you’re unlikely to stop at just one – considering that there are more than 20 options to order.

Address: 340 Riley Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Chef(s): Steven De Vecchi
Opened: September 2022
Price Guide: $$$
Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday (5 PM – 10 PM), Thursday (5 PM – 12 AM), Friday – Saturday (7:30 AM – 12 AM)
Bookings: Not required

Tio’s Cerveceria (Best Tequila Bar)

The proximity of Surry Hills to Potts Point and Darlinghurst means that the suburb has benefited immensely from the latter’s high density of wine bars. But what do you do when the mood for Tequila, Mezcal and other agave spirits in general strikes you? If you’re in the inner city, head to Tio’s obviously.

A real tonic in the era of $35 cocktails and increasingly homogenous wine lists, Tio’s has done much to elevate the desirability of the Margarita since it opened over a decade ago. With a $12 special on the eponymous cocktail (available daily until sold out) it’s not hard to see why.

Known for its raucous atmosphere, baggies of hot popcorn, and deceptively clever drinks list; this Cerveceria paved the way for Mucho Group’s other similarly beloved venues (e.g. Centro 86 and Bar Planet).

Address: 4/14 Foster St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Opened: September 2012
Price Guide: $$
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Thursday (5 PM – 12 AM), Friday (4 PM – 12 AM), Saturday (5 PM – 12 AM)
Bookings: Not required

The Rover (Best Cocktails)

Within spitting distance of Pellegrino 2000, The Rover (from the same group that brought you Bistecca and The Gidley) is a two-storey neighbourhood bar, enclosing a variety of expertly curated eating and drinking experiences.

At the end of 2022, the initial ground-floor concept was joined by a dedicated dining room upstairs. Here, the Liquid & Larder expertise for chophouse classics runs front and centre: whether it’s pork neck, pâté, a crudo of raw scallop, or the relentlessly Instagrammed Gidley burger (complete with double beef patties).

The Rover’s classic, frippery-free ethos is similarly embodied in its drinks menu. There are no ionised hydrosols or Rotovap distillates in sight. Rather, the emphasis is on the smartest possible version of a thing discerning drinkers already know and love.

The Estuary Martini and Rover Reviver are both excellent options at tee off; but we also recommend asking your bartender about the ‘seasonal’ section – full of delish, weather-matched recipes like the Revival Mode (AKA the official/unofficial drink of summer).

Address: 75 Campbell St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Chef(s): Pip Pratt
Opened: March 2022
Price Guide: $$$
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday (4 PM – 12 AM), Saturday (3 PM – 12 AM)
Bookings: Recommended

The Dolphin Hotel

We understand why the inclusion of The Dolphin might prove to be a bit of a headscratcher. After all, the Crown Street stalwart is best known for its rooftop terrace and eclectic selection of woodfired pizza.

Chances are though, if you’re considering this three-floor venue for 5 o’clock drinks, you’ll be steered in the direction of the ‘Side Bar’: a lengthy strip that bookends one side of the ground floor, it’s often used to showcase pop-ups or whatever new cocktails the Dolphin’s beverage team have been concocting.

Between September and the end of 2023, the Side Bar played host to ‘Bar Red’ (Campari’s annual Negroni-fueled takeover). Expect similar initiatives from spirited marques like Cointreau in 2024. Sipped over a few slices of Peperoni Di Bufala, naturally.

Address: 412 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Opened: March 2022
Price Guide: $$$
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday (12 PM – late), Sunday (12 PM – 10 PM)

If you’ve enjoyed our round-up of the best bars in Surry Hills, consider checking out some of our other stories about eating & drinking below:

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Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].


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